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MIT blogger Ankita D. '23

spring! semester! by Ankita D. '23

so apparently i'm doing a lot of random shit

We’re well into Quarter 3 and my first midterms are quickly approaching, so to procrastinate for them, I’m going to talk about my spring semester. Without further ado…



18.065 (Matrix Methods in Data Analysis, Signal Processing, and Machine Learning)


This class is taught by the legend Gilbert Strang, whom you may know for his 18.06 videos on MIT OCW. These videos saved me when I was taking Linear Algebra in high school, so I sent Professor Strang fanmail, and he responded to me recommending that I take this class! I’ve been waiting to take it ever since.


This class definitely meets my expectations. I haven’t taken a math class since Linear Algebra in my junior year of high school, so reviewing important concepts took a while, but the class is really well-paced, so I didn’t struggle too much. I can’t wait to leave the realm of matrix methods and learn how they’re applied to probability and statistics, deep learning, and optimization.


21G.038 (China in the News: The Untold Stories)


This class is fascinating. I decided to take it because it will (eventually) contribute to my Chinese minor and also because it’s a CI-H. I, uh, I needed to take one of those or I’d be put on a credit limit next fall.


I had a bit of a rocky start in the class, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I love it. It’s really, really interesting. It focuses on the politics of framing—in other words, how people, whether consciously or subconsciously,  choose to portray issues. The first unit was about reframing Mao Zedong, who is illustrated in a very negative light in the West, and the current unit is about various elements of Chinese culture. I’m loving this unit because the similarities between Chinese and Indian culture are pretty profound, and making comparisons between Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and American culture is really intriguing. 


Also, the assignments aren’t like anything I’ve experienced in a class before—the homework for each class is to do readings/watch documentaries and to write two questions about the content that show your critical thinking. We then discuss everyone’s questions in the next class. It’s a lot of fun!!


21G.102 (Chinese II)


…And now for the actual Chinese language part of my minor! This class meets every day except Wednesday for an hour, and even though I thought it would be impossible to wake up at 10 am, it’s totally doable. I’m actually happy to come to class since it’s super engaging; I already feel my Chinese improving. There’s homework every day, and we also have to memorize 6-7 line dialogues before class quite often, but it’s not hard at all—the homework takes a maximum of 30 minutes every night, and I memorize the dialogue on the 10-minute walk to class. Overall, the class seems like a lot more work than it is since there’s homework every day, but I like how doing it gives me a chance to decompress every night. 


Also, the class is frickin hilarious, no joke. It’s such a friendly environment that everyone can attempt to say things at any time, which means that there are a lot of slip-ups that have me dying with laughter at least once a day. 


15.276 (Communicating With Data)


This class is a CI-M (aka a communication-intensive in your major) so damn, I am COMMUNICATING this semester. It’s pretty chill and it covers some essential skills in being a functioning human in the workplace, which is lit. A lot of it is intuitive, but having multiple opportunities to put everything into practice is nice. Also, I love that we get to work in groups since I haven’t gotten a chance to do that in a class here yet.


It’s also a Sloan class, which is nice because Sloan has a lot of good places to work. It’s overhyped as being really far from campus, but it’s just a five-minute walk, so…


8.02 (Physics II)


Oh, jeez. I’m really behind in this class and there’s a midterm in two days…but we’ll figure that out soon. 


8.02 is in good ol’ TEAL format, so we work in groups and answer questions during class. Again, TEAL is effective for helping people apply concepts to problem-solving, but when you have no idea what’s going on, it’s pretty ineffective. I’ve missed a lot of lectures because 1. I was sick for the first two weeks of the semester and 2. I fell so far behind that going to lecture was essentially meaningless.


and i oop


I took AP Physics I in high school, so I kind of knew what I was doing in 8.01. 8.02, on the other hand…yikes. I really just did not know what was going on for the first three weeks of this semester. There hasn’t even been that much content covered so far, which is the scary part…but I’m using the many resources available to catch up before the midterm!!


pray for me lol




Cardio Drumming (PE):


Yall. You should take this PE class. It’s incredible.


Cardio drumming is quite the concept—you basically use drumsticks to drum on a yoga mat to hype songs. As you drum, you do ab curls and squats and a ton of other exercises that I would hate to do in literally any other context. 


IT’S SO FUN. NO JOKE. I am ENJOYING doing cardio!!!! I look forward to every class!!!!!!!!

Also, the teacher is lovely and extremely accommodating. She has so much energy and an AMAZING taste in music.




Mocha Moves:


Yep, I’m still dancing :) Mocha is only six hours a week during the semester, which seems very light compared to the 20+ hours a week we had to endure during IAP…I love Mocha so much and am really excited for another semester on the team!


Dance Troupe:


I’m both choreographing and dancing in DT this semester. I’m choreographing the beginner hip-hop dance with my living community big (who is also the DT president), so we can hang out in a kitchen and make choreo, which is hellaaa convenient. Choreographing and teaching is SO much fun! It’s tiring since there are over 40 people in our dance, but seeing how much everyone is enjoying it makes me really happy. 



As for the one dance I’m in, it’s a fusion piece that’s being choreographed by a lot of cool people, so I’m v v excited about it. 


Transition Team:


I’ve talked about this before, but Burton-Conner is being renovated, which is a BIG sad. All the living communities within BC are being split up during the two-year period of renovation, so student voices during the transitioning processes are integral to preserving the dorm’s culture. We meet every two weeks to share updates on the transition and to discuss how we can help the student body through this process. Being a member is hard since it breaks my heart that my living community is being split up, but it’s really, really important.


Burton-Conner Vice President:


Ayy I’m on exec! Currently, I don’t have huge responsibilities besides attending UA Council meetings, helping the president out, and staying informed about everything going on with Burton-Conner, but that’ll change when the transition gets more underway…


Global Languages Advisory Group:


Since I’m a Chinese minor, I was invited to join an advisory group that helps the Global Languages department figure out how to better meet student needs. It’s a really chill commitment that has the potential to help a lot of people, which is great. We’re currently working on planning World Languages Day (April 8)!


21G.012 (Exploring Globalization Through Chinese Food):


I TA for this class! It’s a 1-unit freshman exploratory class that my professor from last semester teaches, so she invited me to help her out with it. The class is suuuuper chill—you basically get to eat Chinese snacks and learn about various aspects of Chinese culture. There are only six lectures and also a free trip to Chinatown and a cooking workshop, so it’s a pretty incredible deal. 




Sloan Business Club Social Chair:


I get to help plan cool events for cool people :) 




…and that’s, uh, it!